Cape Town - The good news is that Quinton de Kock seems to be increasingly answering former national captain Graeme Smith's plea for him to take bigger responsibility with the blade in the lower middle-order of the has had a particularly tough time of it, notching only 175 runs from 11 innings since the mid-July first Test against the Lankans at Galle at an average of 17.50.
Partner Aiden Markram hasn't been significantly better in the spell, producing 252 runs at 25.20.
Meanwhile the gradual slip from once lofty terrain of veteran Hashim Amla also stubbornly continues: he has made just over 250 runs himself, going back to Galle, at 28.00 and his last century was all of 27 innings ago - against Bangladesh at Bloemfontein in October 2017.
This is currently his longest career trot without one.
Bavuma has been the most solid-performing of the five, amassing 312 runs at 34.66, although he is going to have to start reaching three figures more regularly if he aspires to regular stationing at blue-chip No 4: his poignant one and only Test ton, against England at Newlands, is now 48 innings ago.
Du Plessis? His 246 runs stretching back to Galle similarly come at a less than wow-inducing 30.75, significantly below his career average of a touch under 42.
Mediocrity, at best, is a worryingly well-developed hallmark among the Proteas' intended premier batsmen, and the national selectors and coaches should be starting to get restless about it.
They need to see certain performance curves switching directions for northward, and ideally sooner rather than later ...
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